Integrating Cybersecurity Education in K-6 Curriculum: Schoolteachers, IT Experts, and Parents' Perceptions

Integrating Cybersecurity Education in K-6 Curriculum: Schoolteachers, IT Experts, and Parents' Perceptions

Author: 
Avideh Sadaghiani-Tabrizi
Program of study: 
D.M./IST
Abstract: 
The educational system has been challenging children through competitive societal information-age education by promoting achievement among students, in preparing children for global excellence. This qualitative research case study of elementary school children’s lack in cybersecurity knowledge and awareness served helpful with exploration into cybersecurity awareness phenomena in kindergarten-through-6th grade (K-6) education through gaining an understanding about children’s need for awareness of cybersecurity from viewpoints of six elementary schoolteachers, six information technology (IT) experts, and four parents. The intent of this research was to explore perceptions of 15 elementary schoolteachers, five IT experts, and five parents of elementary school children about children’s Internet safety measures and needs, in digital-age. This study’s participants agreed with the necessity of monitoring children’s internetworking, to direct attention on children’s ever-increasing need to exercise awareness when playing and learning, depending on the age of children. Interviews of a stratified sample of subpopulations within an upstate New York school district helped to uncover common themes about children’s vulnerability characteristics, in which triangulation of study participants’ perspectives about children’s present character, personal safety, research, and various educational opportunities in elementary schools helped this study’s data saturation. The common themes of this study developed through interviews, directed attention to teaching children information safety practices and monitoring children’s Internet activities, relative to the age and social development of children through continuing existing programs, which the school districts work with local communities to help to increase children’s personal safety.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to my mother, Zarrin-Taj Khatib-Shahidi, MSN, and my father, Amir Sadaghiani-Tabrizi, PhD who devoted time to help pave my way to success. My parents’ unconditional love in helping me to raise my son Robert-Ardavan Ghayoori while managing my life inspired me to continue to partake in my community, and to pursue my higher education and continual professional development. Additionally, I am thankful to my son who is most supportive of my professional development through his consideration and understanding of my limited time.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to extend my gratitude to my mentor, Dr. Mohammad Sharifzadeh who provided much quality advice, timely feedback, and continual encouragement in completing my dissertation. I am appreciative of my educational opportunities at University of Phoenix (UOPX). My educational experience at UOPX has been my privilege and honor, in which I have gained relevant information from the engaging learning-experience with my professors, colleagues, and the university staff throughout my doctoral program. I thank my committee members Dr. Teresa Lao and Dr. Ed Paluch who have provided me much guidance and direction, in addition to my former committee members Dr. Ali Shaykhian, and Dr. Doug Neeley for much advice on my dissertation during my doctoral program. I am indebted to much advice from many good friends and professors at the University of Phoenix, as such Dr. Lunthita Duthely, Glenna Clutter, Dr. Diane Kottabi, Dr. Ruzanna Topchyan, Dr. Noelle Banuelos, Dr. Anastasia Metros, Dr. Don Bronsard, and Dr. Leona Lobell Torkelsen. I like to thank my school district’s leaders, elementary schools’ counselors, elementary schoolteachers, and parents. I thank Kerry Flynn and Kim Greiner who set the foundation for my research to occur, my school district’s superintendent Joe Corr who accepted my study in the school district. Additionally, I thank Eileen Satterlee, Sari VanSleet, Kathy Berger, Jen Dopp, Jennifer Fletcher, Patrick Masson, Diana Mattingly, Jen Scism, Simeen Tabatabai, Rama Bragaspathi, Sue Bucci, Kathy Mattison, and Dr. Nasreen Yadegari-Lewis for providing input and helping me with my study. This study would not have been successful without concerns and considerations of many caring individuals in my life that I have had the blessing to associate with. I have been fortunate to spend the last over 12 years of my information technology profession at the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Health Network Systems Management - Computer Applications Development, reorganized under the Office of Information Technology Services, Health Cluster - Application Development and Support Group, under the guidance of Frank Murphy and Jay Barkenhagen who have guided, empowered, and encouraged me in my professional development. I am thankful for associating with many caring professional colleagues over the years who I thank for advice and mentorship during my employment at the New York State government. I thank John Fowler, Tom Morris, Roch Uhe, Paul Schade, and Jack Skowerneck. In particular, I like to remember my former supervisor Ed Kearnan and his beloved wife Paula Kearnan who may God rest their souls were caring towards me, my son, my professional career, and my family prior to leaving this world so prematurely. I like to express my gratitude for genuine concern of everyone during this doctoral journey and recognize the overwhelming support of my family members, friends, professional colleagues, mentors, supervisors, and professors who are key individuals and mentors to direct and guide me, and influenced my educational and professional growth. I have succeeded in my educational pursuits and I have benefited from my associations with many good friends and professors, and professional colleagues who have provided valuable feedback throughout my lifetime, in my associations with University of Phoenix, Sage Graduate School of Albany, State University of New York at Albany, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, University of Massachusetts at Boston, Union College, and Hudson Valley Community College. As such, I am thankful for my experience with many educational leaders and professors, in particular Amy McEwing, Brian Vlieg, Dr. Donald Heckleman, and Dr. John Lutts.